I think over the last eight months I have mentioned the changing Irish weather in over half of my reports, but it has become a major factor in our business. At times, the weather can certainly be a positive for the hospitality industry in Ireland but sadly, this year it has mostly been a damaging element within our trade. Extreme weather fluctuations have resulted in storms in October, snow in March and the worst for me personally, the heatwave in June. As I always keep saying though, we are resilient, we must continue to be positive and we all know, you can never look too far ahead.
While the weather is a relatively new factor in our business, the staff crises is one that has lingered around Irish shores for quite some time. For most of this year, it has been our toughest struggle and like many restaurants, we have struggled to find waiting staff. We all know that without skilled staff there will be an adverse effect on turnover. We are striving to give the customer the best service possible but if we don’t have staff that can upsell, the consumer spend will undoubtedly be down. What will we, as an industry, do? I for one, hope the government come to their senses and bring back Cert. In the meantime, I suggest restaurants look at the variety of appropriate Skillnet courses that are available to RAI members which have proven to enhance the businesses of those in attendance.
This year’s top ten foodie destinations were announced recently with my own town, Kinsale, happily making it onto one of the top ten spots. Kinsale was given the title of Gourmet Capital of Ireland some years ago. In those days, very few towns had considered of the idea of food tourism. Nowadays however, you have so many foodie destinations that finally understand the importance of incorporating food and tourism into the overall attraction of their region. They are now fabulously showcasing the very best their area has to offer and the long-standing connections between Irish food producers and restaurants can be witnessed county-wide. The emergence of food trails and foodie experiences in Ireland is so refreshing and let us hope it’s now the first thing a tourist thinks of when considering Ireland as a destination instead of a large pint of Guinness (no disrespect to Arthur).
Best of luck to all the nominees
President of the Restaurants Association of Ireland